The representatives of the NGOs are frequently visiting shops and homes to collect on loan repayment instalments
Representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kashiani upazila of Gopalganj and Sadar upazila of Nilphamari districts are allegedly forcing the loanees to pay the instalments on the loans they have taken, placing a heavy burden on them.
In Gopalganj, due to Covid-19, locals in Kashiani have limited their movement in local markets. Small business owners are suffering from lack of customers which has affected their daily income heavily.
Despite the fact, at least 13 NGOs are forcing people to repay the instalments.
The representatives of the NGOs are frequently visiting shops and homes to collect on loan repayment instalments.
Most of the poor people who have been suffering from poverty due to corona and recent cyclone Amphan said they are not capable of paying the instalments against the loans.
The people who have been working in different shops are also struggling to pay back loans.
They said they were relieved when they heard the government asked NGOs not to take instalments on loans from the people for the next few months.
But the representatives of NGOs are pressing them to pay the instalments against the loans, which they are not able to do at this time, they said.
Hardware businessman Rokibul Islam said: "Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the number of customers has substantially decreased in the market which has affected our daily income. We are feeling the burden of paying back loan instalments."
Shikha Begum, who lives in Ghonapara village in the upazila, said: "My husband would work in a shop that deals with decorating homes. But, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the owner closed the shop, rendering my husband jobless. As a result, we have been suffering to pay the loan instalments."
This correspondent contacted several NGO representatives for comment, but they refused to say anything.
Contacted, Kashiani Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Sabbir Ahmed said: " The NGOs have been asked to stop collecting loan instalments from low-income people until June 30, as they have been left without any work following the coronavirus outbreak.
“Low-income people, rickshaw-pullers and auto-rickshaw drivers are overburdened with loans from NGOs. Their main income sources have been stopped. Considering this situation, stop realizing loan instalments from these low-income people," the UNO said.
In Nilphamari, representatives of non-government organization People's Oriented Program Implementation (POPI) are allegedly forcing locals in Nilphamari municipality area to repay their loan instalments.
Besides POPI, 35 more local NGOs are active in Sadar upazila.
Haidar Ali of Babupara Murgihati area in the municipality said he runs his family by working as an auto-rickshaw driver. His income has dramatically fallen in the corona period.
“I took a loan from the POPI for buying the rickshaw. They know my condition but create pressure to pay the loan,” he also said.
Security guard Mohammad Ali said he had taken a loan from the NGO for running a chicken business. Due to Covid-19, the business has been stopped. But the local representative of the NGO has been pressuring him to repay the loan.
Like Haidar and Ali, many loanees echoed the same.
When contacted, POPI area coordinator Tonmoy Kumar: “There is no pressure from our side. If anyone pays the loan willingly, only then we collect it.”
Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Elina Akter said: “We have issued notice to all NGO offices in the upazila not to realize loan till June 30.”
If any NGO violates the rule, steps will be taken in this regard against the NGO, she added.